Touring

Last month we talked about the ìCî party on a tour. This month weíll hit the ìAî and ìBî parties. The interesting thing about being on a tour like this is that there are a large variety of jobs available, and being a musician only plays a small part in most of them.


The ìAî party consists of the ìpop starî and their entourage. The tour manager is the person responsible for co-coordinating the day-to-day activities for the A party. They will have an assistant that makes sure all of the A party knows what time to be in the lobby to go to the gig, deal with ticket requests, and all of the other day to day activities to make things comfortable on tour.

Artist management usually has at least 1 or 2 people out on the road to deal with the local radio station people, fan clubs, and other promotional activities.

There are at least 2 security people on tour to protect the artist. These guys are usually ex-police or ex-military. A really good security person will go out of their way to avoid confrontations, but rest assured if there were trouble they would handle it quickly and decisively.

On a Mariah or Madonna type tour there is a large group of stylists, hair and make up people on tour. These people are normally employed doing TV and movie work when theyíre not on tour so they usually are very well paid.

The artist personal assistant has one of the most demanding jobs. They have to be with the artists almost 24 hours a day, then magically when the artist is asleep has to do a long list of tasks and somehow manage to get some rest themselves.

Many of these tours bring along their own private chefs, Doctors, massage/chiropractors, and ìspiritual adviserî specialists on tour full time.

The A party typically will travel on the private jet with the artist, but if itís a bus tour many of them will go by bus.

The ìBî party is generally the band, singers, dancers, video director, front of house mixer and that is normally the party I travel with. Personally, 9 times out of 10 if you have a choice, the C party is the better choice for traveling with. The B party has to deal with a lot more egos, and a lot more ìnewî people on tour that donít quite get the rules about punctuality, and the concept that this is actually a job not a 24 hour a day party.

The road manager, and their assistant make sure everyone knows where theyíre going and what time to be there. Normally the B party will travel by bus, but sometimes the artist has a large charter plane and will put us with them.

I get a lot of questions about how to get a gig playing on big tours like this. On my website I have several good resources for finding crew and musician gigs on tour. http://www.mcknightsoundsinc.com/content/links.htm

Unfortunately thereís no simple way to get a gig as a musician on a tour. You have to do the normal networking that any musician has to do. I would suggest finding out where the big rehearsal studios are if youíre in LA, New York or Nashville and check there often for who is about to start rehearsals. Keep an eye on Billboard and the music trade magazines for who is releasing new music, find out who manages them (also usually in the trade magazines), and then send them a very short resume. Itís normally a word of mouth thing though when theyíre looking for a band, but sometimes people get lucky and get a job that way. I have gotten many people gigs that have sent me resumes, but the ones that are referred by other people I know always have an advantage.

If you find out that there are auditions do your homework about the artist and the music they are playing. I was working with Katherine McPhee recently and she held auditions for her band and singers and I was extremely surprised at how many players showed up not having any idea about her songs or the ìlookî she would want. and were totally unprepared.

Generally for ìpopî gigs reading music is not crucial, for TV itís essential, and it never hurts to be able to chart things out yourself no matter what. Know your gear, and work on being able to play many different styles of music, and to be able to quickly learn songs by ear.

The word of mouth way of getting and keeping a gig is all about basic common sense. If youíre a lunatic, late all the time, or high all the time, a slob to travel with, and in general not a fun person to be around, you will probably never work on a major tour again no matter how good a musician you are. One of the biggest mistakes musicians make is they donít know when NOT to play. Play the parts, and do the gig that youíre being paid for, not the jazz gig you wish you had. Itís just embarrassing to hear guys that overplay, and donít really know the songs in the first place. The front of house guys that I work with will turn the musicians off in the PA that play like that. In short, common sense and a great work ethic is the difference between making it out here or not, simple as that. Mike

Mike McKnight Sounds Inc.

34145 Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite #302
Dana Point, CA 92629
U.S.A.
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